Day on the Lake: KJ Queen

College bass fishing is a training ground for many young Elite Series standouts, including North Carolina’s KJ Queen. And no college team has chalked up more victories than Queen’s alma mater, Tennessee’s Bethel University. “When I was competing on my high school bass fishing team in North Carolina, I dreamed of one day being a professional angler,” Queen recalls. “Then I learned about this little college in Tennessee that was actually offering bass fishing scholarships! I applied for a Bethel scholarship and was fortunate enough to get one.” Queen started attending Bethel in 2015, and the timing couldn’t have been better. “The college is located close to Kentucky Lake, and our team fished nearly every day after classes. It was like bass fishing boot camp — my training was hardcore and intensive. Our coach [Garry Mason, a Kentucky Lake guide] made sure we gained experience locating and catching bass in every conceivable water and weather condition. We were a national powerhouse among college teams. It was awesome competing against big colleges like Auburn or Tennessee [and] knowing that they respected us. We got to fish a wide variety of lakes when competing, which was tremendous training for moving into a pro career. I graduated in 2020 with a business management degree, which I felt would prepare me for operating a tackle business and successfully managing my pro career.” If you’ve had trouble patterning bass in early summer, check out how this college all-star turned Elite standout scored strikes on a lake he’s never seen before.

Date: June 24, 2022
Venue: Lake L, a small flatland reservoir
Water: 82 degrees, stained
Weather: Partly cloudy, high 92
Pro: KJ Queen, 25, Catawba, N.C. Queen qualified for the Elite Series in 2021 via the Eastern Opens. He was a standout college angler, qualifying for five B.A.S.S. and five FLW college championships. His Queen Tackle online fishing store sells custom jigs and other tackle items.
Boat: Gambler 22 with 250-horsepower Mercury outboard; Minn Kota trolling motor; Humminbird, Lowrance and Garmin electronics; and twin Power-Pole shallow-water anchors

◗ 6:17 a.m. It’s 68 degrees and hazy when we arrive at Lake L’s boat ramp. Queen arranges several DCVR rods with Lew’s reels on his boat’s deck. What’s his prediction for bass location? “Early summer is a transitional time, with some bass remaining shallow after spawning and others on deep, main-lake structure. It’s also when bluegill typically spawn; I’ll target banks with flooded bushes and laydowns early in case some big bass are shallow feeding on ’gills.”


◗ 6:23 a.m. We launch the Gambler. Queen checks the water: It’s 82 degrees and stained. He makes a quick run to Lake L’s opposite shore and casts a 1/2-ounce Queen Tackle Switch Blade bladed jig in the black magic color pattern with a Zoom Speed Chunk trailer around isolated laydowns. “Queen Tackle products are unique because we use tungsten exclusively instead of lead. Tungsten is denser and more compact than lead, thus allowing a stealthier presentation while transmitting lure vibrations and light bites more effectively.”

◗ 6:38 a.m. Queen has cranked the bladed jig down a 100-yard stretch of bank without a hit. He moves into a shallow pocket littered with fallen trees.

◗ 6:48 a.m. Queen switches to a 1/2-ounce green pumpkin Queen Tackle flipping jig with a matching Zoom Z Craw Jr. trailer. “I’ve rigged the trailer sideways so its legs look like a bluegill’s fins instead of a crawdad’s pincers.”

◗ 6:59 a.m. Queen moves near Lake L’s dam to target a rock bank with a generic black surface popper. “I’m seeing some baitfish on the surface, but so far there’s no sign of bass attacking them.”

◗ 7:03 a.m. Queen’s side-imaging electronics pinpoint an isolated brushpile in open water. He drags a prism shad Zoom Finesse Worm on a drop-shot rig past the cover.

◗ 7:13 a.m. Queen locates another brushpile and bumps the flipping jig through the cover. “I’m seeing fish suspended around this brushpile on my Garmin LiveScope unit, but because they’re stacked in a ‘tower’ formation, they’re probably crappie.”


◗ 7:23 a.m. There’s a light breeze blowing out of the north as Queen tries the popper around dam riprap.

◗ 7:26 a.m. Queen rigs a 1/2-ounce Queen Tackle Live Sonar Tungsten Jighead on a 3-inch green pumpkin Zoom tube bait and casts it to a ball of suspended baitfish he’s spotted on the Garmin. “Check it out; this tungsten jig looks like a ball of fire sinking on forward-shooting sonar!”

◗ 7:31 a.m. Queen tries a green pumpkin Zoom Beatdown Ned worm on the same jighead.

◗ 7:37 a.m. Queen probes a series of laydowns with the flipping jig as a snake swims lazily down the bank. “Yikes, that’s a dang cottonmouth! You didn’t tell me there’d be snakes!”

◗ 7:40 a.m. Queen races to a rocky main-lake point and grinds a citrus shad Jenko CD20 deep-diving crankbait around the structure.

◗ 7:42 a.m. Queen spots suspended fish on his Garmin and tries the tube bait, letting it sink and stroking his rod so the bait hops through the school. He bags his first keeper largemouth of the day, 1 pound, 8 ounces. “I’m sitting in 20 feet of water, and the fish are suspending around 8 feet.”

◗ 7:46 a.m. Queen hangs another bass on the tube. His second keeper of the day weighs 2 pounds, 1 ounce. “I saw the bait sinking on LiveScope and watched the bass swim up and grab it. There’s a whole bunch of fish on this point.”

◗ 7:49 a.m. Queen tries the Beatdown worm on the point “to give the fish something different to look at.”

◗ 7:50 a.m. Queen bags his third keeper, 1-10, on the Beatdown. “I saw a really big fish move toward my bait on LiveScope, but this smaller one beat her to it.”

◗ 7:52 a.m. Queen catches keeper No. 4, 1-2, on the Beatdown. “There’s usually a few big fish mixed in with a big school of keepers; they’ll often sit under the pack and pick off injured baitfish.”

◗ 7:58 a.m. Queen bags keeper No. 5, 2-8, on the Beatdown. “It’s culling time!”

◗ 8:03 a.m. Queen opts to try a purple/chartreuse Megabass 110 jerkbait on the point. He retrieves the lure with rapid jerks and, as it nears the boat, a big fish swipes at it and hooks up but comes unbuttoned. “Wow! That was a 5-pounder!”

◗ 8:05 a.m. He catches a small yellow bass (similar to a white bass) on the jerkbait.

◗ 8:08 a.m. Queen catches his sixth keeper, 2-6, on the jerkbait. “I’m fishing it with a series of rapid jerks because the water’s warm and the fish are really active.”

◗ 8:15 a.m. Queen’s rod bows as a big fish slams the jerkbait. He works it patiently to the boat and grabs his seventh keeper, 4 pounds, 1 ounce. “This fish was positioned way outside of the main school.”


◗ 8:23 a.m. Queen is still on the main-lake point. Several more presentations with the jerkbait fail to entice another strike, so he reverts to the tube and catches keeper No. 8, 1-8.

◗ 8:31 a.m. A school of bass chasing tiny shad erupts on the surface. Queen hops the tube through the melee but hauls water.

◗ 8:38 a.m. Back to the diving crankbait on the point. “The school has scattered. I’ll make a few more casts then give this spot a rest.”

◗ 8:45 a.m. Queen has moved to another main-lake point; this one is studded with stumps. He tries the tube here without success.

◗ 8:55 a.m. Queen moves into a tributary arm with multiple docks and tries the tube around a boathouse.

◗ 9:14 a.m. Queen hangs the CD20 in a sunken brushpile and breaks it off.

◗ 9:18 a.m. Queen casts a replacement CD20 to the submerged shrubbery and breaks it off as well.

◗ 9:21 a.m. Queen sacrifices his third CD20 to the brushpile. “Good thing Jenko is my crankbait sponsor!”


◗ 9:23 a.m. Queen tries the Beatdown worm and flipping jig in the brushpile.

◗ 9:27 a.m. Queen moves closer to shore and bumps the tube around a concrete seawall.

◗ 9:33 a.m. Queen rockets back to the main-lake point where he scored all of his keepers. “Now I’m seeing a cluster of [really] small fish on the Garmin — probably more of those little yellow bass. Largemouth seldom eat them because they have real spiny fins, and they’ll often move out of a spot once the yellow bass move in.”

◗ 9:40 a.m. “The fish are now sitting on the bottom,” Queen remarks as he hops the tube around the point. “I need to slow down my presentation.”

◗ 9:44 a.m. Queen catches his ninth keeper, 2-8, on the tube. “I barely moved the bait that time. They’ve gotten way less aggressive.”

◗ 9:48 a.m. Queen swings aboard keeper No. 10, 1-14, on the tube. “I know there are some big ones down there. I just need to fish through these smaller fish.”

◗ 9:55 a.m. Queen switches to a 3/4-ounce Queen Tackle Swinghead jig with a 7-inch plum Zoom Z-Craw Worm. “The swing head delivers incredible action to the worm when you crawl it steadily across the bottom.” He makes two casts with the rig then switches to the Beatdown worm and bags his 11th keeper, 2 pounds even. “Did you see that?! I was reeling in this fish and an 8-pounder swam up and tried to grab it!”

◗ 10:07 a.m. Back to the jerkbait on the point. “I need to get that 8-pounder to grab this!”

◗ 10:16 a.m. Queen catches keeper No. 12, 2-13, on the jerkbait. What’s his take on the day so far? “The fish are bunched up offshore feeding on tiny shad, and so far they’ve been really active. I’ve noticed every time that breeze subsides, the bite slows or stops completely. The fish were suspended high in the water column earlier, but now that the wind has stopped, they’re more bottom-oriented. I’ve thrown a rotation of lures to keep them interested, and so far this approach has paid off. I’ll keep hammering this school until they quit biting because there are some giants hanging around this point.”


◗ 10:23 a.m. Queen runs uplake to the edge of a main-lake flat and idles around looking for baitfish and bass. Nothing here.

◗ 10:31 a.m. He’s moved farther uplake to a long, shallow point. Here he tries the tube and crankbait.

◗ 10:38 a.m. Queen moves two castlengths off the point and bags a yellow bass and a crappie on the jerkbait.

◗ 10:58 a.m. Queen has covered a wide swath around the point with the jerkbait. He switches to a 4-inch shad color Jenko Tremor Shad swimbait on a 1/4-ounce Queen Tackle Live Sonar Tungsten Jighead and swims/hops it around the structure. “This bait closely matches the size of the shad the fish are feeding on.”

◗ 11:14 a.m. The lake splits into two forks at the point. Queen moves into the murkier fork and pitches the flipping jig around laydowns.


◗ 11:23 a.m. Queen presses deeper into the fork and tries a black Texas-rigged Zoom Mag UV Speed Worm around shallow wood cover. “This lake has tons of wood, but the bass aren’t on it today.”

◗ 11:35 a.m. Queen races downlake to a submerged rockpile. A huge bass boils on the surface chasing a big gizzard shad. “I may need to upsize my presentations!” He grinds the CD20 over the rocks.

◗ 11:46 a.m. Queen abandons the rockpile and runs back to his honey hole. A quick electronics scan shows the school has moved about a castlength off the point.

◗ 11:55 a.m. Queen casts the Tremor Shad to the bass school and a big fish grabs it as it’s sinking. He races to the back of the boat and carefully works the lunker close enough to lip it. Queen’s 13th keeper weighs 5 pounds, 8 ounces. “This bait is tiny, but when they’re offshore eating those immature shad, it’ll catch big fish.” No kidding!

◗ 12:12 p.m. Queen makes a short run uplake to another offshore rockpile; this one is loaded with suspending baitfish. He tries the Tremor Shad around the structure without success.


◗ 12:23 p.m. Queen runs farther uplake to a secondary point and hops the Tremor Shad around the structure. “This point drops off from 8 feet straight down into a 25-foot channel! I’m seeing a big ball of bait suspending around the drop.” Queen pitches the Tremor Shad to the dropoff, lets it sink, detects a tap and slams back his rod. “This one’s a giant!” he exclaims. Unfortunately the fish gives a couple of headshakes then throws the hook. “Wow, I couldn’t even move that fish!”

◗ 12:26 p.m. Queen retrieves the CD20 around the dropoff.

◗ 12:33 p.m. Queen moves closer to shore and tries the flipping jig and tube around a series of docks.

◗ 12:41 p.m. Queen hits a wood seawall with the flipping jig. He’s obviously bummed about losing the giant bass on the dropoff. “I backed my reel’s drag off while I was fighting that 5-pounder and I neglected to tighten it back up. Lesson learned — not paying attention to details will come back to haunt you.”

◗ 12:50 p.m. Queen races across the lake to a main-lake flat with scattered brushpiles. He hops the Tremor Shad to submerged shrubbery and bags his 14th keeper, 1-8.

◗ 1 p.m. Queen moves to a clay point and cranks the CD20 around submerged stumps. No luck here.

◗ 1:09 p.m. Queen roars downlake to finish out his time on the main-lake point where he scored 13 of his 14 keepers. He hops the Tremor Shad around suspending fish he’s spotted on LiveScope.

◗ 1:18 p.m. Queen scores his 15th keeper, 3-10, off the point on the Tremor Shad.

◗ 1:23 p.m. Time’s up! Queen has had a great day on Lake L, boating 15 keeper largemouth; his five biggest fish weigh 18 pounds, 8 ounces.


“The fish were really active, and once I found the right spot, I was able to whack and stack ’em,” Queen told Bassmaster. “The schooling fish were actively feeding on tiny baitfish; many of them were in the 1 1/2- to 2-pound class, but there were some far bigger fish mixed in. Forward-shooting sonar played a major role in locating and catching fish and allowed me to keep tabs on their constantly shifting location and mood. If I were to fish this lake tomorrow under similar conditions, I’d spend more time looking for offshore bait schools and less time hitting shallow cover.”


1. 2 pounds, 8 ounces; green pumpkin Zoom Beatdown Ned worm on 1/2-ounce Queen Tackle Live Sonar Tungsten Jighead; main-lake point; 7:58 a.m.
2. 4 pounds, 1 ounce; purple/chartreuse Megabass 110 jerkbait; same place as No. 1; 8:15 a.m.
3. 2 pounds, 13 ounces; same lure as No. 2; same place as No. 1; 10:16 a.m.
4. 5 pounds, 8 ounces; 4-inch shad Jenko Tremor Shad swimbait on 1/4-ounce Queen Tackle Live Sonar Tungsten Jighead; same place as No. 1; 11:55 a.m.
5. 3 pounds, 10 ounces; same lure as No. 4; same place as No. 1; 1:18 p.m.


5225 Jenko Tremor Shadsoft bait white/yellow/clearBMDOTL- KJ QueenJune 2023